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MLB: Houston Astros at Cleveland Guardians

Astros' Justin Verlander blanks Guardians for 15th win

August 5, 2022, 2:27 AM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Justin Verlander allowed just two hits over six scoreless innings to record his major-league-leading 15th win, lifting the visiting Houston Astros to a 6-0 victory over the Cleveland Guardians on Thursday.

Verlander (15-3) struck out five batters and walked one en route to lowering his majors-best ERA to 1.73. The two-time American League Cy Young Award recipient has allowed one earned run or none during each start of his seven-game winning streak.

Houston's Chas McCormick and Martin Maldonado each belted a solo homer and drove in three runs. McCormick, who finished with three hits, served as the Astros' right fielder with Kyle Tucker sitting out due to a non-COVID illness.

Maldonado, Jeremy Pena and Jose Altuve each had two hits as the Astros earned their fifth win in eight games.

The Guardians mustered just three hits en route to losing for the third time in four meetings with Houston this season.

Houston's Yordan Alvarez singled to lead off the third inning and advanced to third base following a two-out throwing error by third baseman Jose Ramirez. McCormick's infield single up the middle allowed Alvarez to cross the plate to open the scoring.

McCormick's RBI single in the fifth inning gave Houston a 2-0 and chased Zach Plesac (2-10). Nick Sandlin stepped in and retired one batter before Maldonado's double down the left field line scored both Aledmys Diaz and McCormick.

That closed the book on Plesac, who lost his third straight start and sixth consecutive decision after permitting four runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. He walked five and fanned four.

McCormick gave the Astros a 5-0 lead in the seventh inning, depositing an 0-2 fastball from Kirk McCarty over the wall in right field. The homer was McCormick's 11th of the season.

Maldonado added his 11th homer of the season two batters later. He sent an 0-1 fastball from McCarty over the wall in center field.

Verlander exited after tossing 96 pitches, 63 for strikes.

Astros relievers Will Smith and Ryne Stanek bridged the gap to Phil Maton, who retired the side in the ninth inning to end the game.

--Field Level Media

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros

Justin Verlander seeks another win as Astros oppose Guardians

August 4, 2022, 8:42 AM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Houston ace Justin Verlander aims for his seventh consecutive victory when the Houston Astros begin a four-game series against the host Cleveland Guardians on Thursday.

Verlander (14-3, 1.81 ERA) leads the majors in ERA and wins in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. He has allowed one earned run or none in each of his past six starts, going 6-0 with a 0.86 ERA in that span.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner turned in another gem last Friday, when he allowed one run on five hits over 7 2/3 innings in an 11-1 win over the Seattle Mariners.

"He knows exactly what the game calls for and then makes adjustments accordingly," Seattle manager Scott Servais said. "He keeps doing his thing at 39 years old and (you) just have to tip your cap at him. He's going to the Hall of Fame, he's that good."

Verlander was appreciative of the reception he received Friday from the Houston crowd.

"The fans were incredible," he said. "It felt really special to have them acknowledge me like that. It was a sellout crowd, which was pretty usual. It's nice to be able to go out and perform and have them support you like that."

Verlander is 21-24 with a 4.61 ERA in 53 career starts vs. Cleveland. He has struggled to contain Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez, who is 11-for-30 with two homers against him.

Houston avoided a three-game sweep against the Boston Red Sox with a 6-1 victory on Wednesday. Second baseman Jose Altuve tied a club record with his 34th career four-hit game and first baseman Trey Mancini hit a two-run homer in his first start with his new team.

Cleveland has won 11 of its past 17 games and sits one game behind the first-place Minnesota Twins in the American League Central.

The Guardians began the week by winning two of three against the Arizona Diamondbacks, including a 7-4 victory on Wednesday. Amed Rosario and Oscar Gonzalez both homered and combined for five RBIs in the win.

Right-hander Zach Plesac (2-9, 4.33 ERA) will take the mound for the Guardians on Thursday. He lost his fifth straight decision on Saturday, when he yielded five runs over five innings against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Plesac, 27, owns a 1-1 record and 10.24 ERA in two career starts against Houston. He allowed seven runs over 4 2/3 innings in a 7-3 loss to the Astros on May 24.

Guardians left fielder Steven Kwan enters the series on a tear. The rookie is batting .355 (27-for-76) with 16 runs and five RBIs during his career-high, 17-game hitting streak.

Kwan's streak is the longest by a Cleveland rookie since Michael Brantley had a hit in 19 straight games back in 2010.

The Guardians added a pair of rookies to their roster this week, outfielder Will Benson, who is 0-for-2 through three games, and infielder Tyler Freeman, who recorded his first major league hit in his debut on Wednesday.

"I feel like I'm dreaming still," Freeman said postgame. "Maybe when I wake up tomorrow it'll kind of come back to me. But I'm still on Cloud 9."

Houston welcomed three new players at Tuesday's trade deadline. Mancini arrived from the Baltimore Orioles, while the Astros acquired catcher Christian Vazquez from the Boston Red Sox and left-handed reliever Will Smith from the Atlanta Braves.

Mancini, who hit 117 homers during his 5 1/2 seasons with Baltimore, made an immediate impact with his two-run homer on Wednesday.

"I was pretty pumped up in the moment," Mancini said. "Just a really special moment and definitely one of the highlights of my career."

--Field Level Media

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros

Anyone watching? Astros' Yordan Alvarez gets 4-strike at-bat

August 4, 2022, 1:10 AM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez unofficially struck out during the third inning of Wednesday's game against the Boston Red Sox but nobody noticed.

Umpire Jim Wolf didn't pull any punch-out theatrics and Boston catcher Reese McGuire tossed the ball back to left-hander Rich Hill. Nobody in the Red Sox dugout pointed out that the at-bat was over.

Meanwhile, Alvarez stayed put in the batter's box for the next offering of his four-strike at-bat.

Hill's first pitch of the at-bat was a ball and the second was a called strike. Alvarez then fouled off a pitch that landed near the third-base dugout for strike two.

Then Hill threw a changeup that Wolf called a strike. But play continued on as if were just strike two.

On the "1-3" count, Alvarez bounced out to first base for the first out of the inning.

Astros manager Dusty Baker said he wasn't aware it happened until told by reporters after the contest.

"Everybody missed it," Baker told reporters.

Alvarez isn't a player that you want to give extra pitches if you're the opponent. He has 30 homers and 72 RBIs in 89 games.

The Astros won the contest 6-1 despite Alvarez going hitless in four at-bats with an RBI.

--Field Level Media

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox

Red Sox send Christian Vazquez to Astros; acquire Reese McGuire, Tommy Pham

August 1, 2022, 11:45 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox made a flurry of deals Monday evening, reportedly dealing away starting catcher Christian Vazquez while adding catcher Reese McGuire and outfielder Tommy Pham in an effort to keep pace in the American League wild-card race.

The Red Sox dealt Vazquez to the Houston Astros, with reports of the move arising less than two hours before the teams were scheduled to open a three-game series against each other in Houston.

Vazquez, 31, took batting practice with Boston before learning of the trade. Reporters circled around him in foul territory, where he said "It's a business" before a Red Sox employee ushered him away.

It was not yet reported what Houston would be sending Boston to land Vazquez, who spent all eight seasons of his major league career with the Red Sox. He was one of the few players remaining from Boston's 2014 World Series roster.

Vazquez is batting .282 this season with eight home runs and 42 RBIs across 84 games.

It was the Astros' second big acquisition of the afternoon, coming hours after they landed first baseman/outfielder Trey Mancini from the Baltimore Orioles.

The Red Sox filled the hole at catcher by acquiring McGuire from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for left-handed relief pitcher Jake Diekman.

McGuire, 27, was in his first season in Chicago after starting his MLB career with the Toronto Blue Jays for four seasons. McGuire was batting .225 with nine doubles and 10 RBIs across 53 games for the White Sox. He's a lifetime .241 hitter with nine home runs, 34 doubles and 36 RBIs.

Diekman, 35, was in his first season with the Red Sox after a lengthy career with five previous clubs. In 44 appearances out of the bullpen this year, Diekman was 5-1 with one save, a 4.23 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings.

Multiple reports also said the Red Sox landed Pham from the Cincinnati Reds for a player to be named later. The New York Mets were said to be the other team in contention for the 34-year-old Pham.

Pham spent five-plus years with the St. Louis Cardinals, parts of two seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays and two with the San Diego Padres before joining the Reds. He is batting .238 this season with 11 home runs, 11 doubles, 39 RBIs and 42 walks across 91 games.

The Red Sox entered Monday's play 51-52, in last place in the AL East but not completely out of the wild-card race.

--Field Level Media

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles

Reports: Astros acquire 1B/OF Trey Mancini from Orioles

August 1, 2022, 8:54 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros acquired outfielder/first baseman Trey Mancini from the Baltimore Orioles on Monday, multiple outlets reported.

According to Baltimore's MASN, the Orioles were expected to receive a package of pitching prospects in return.

Mancini is batting .268 with a .751 OPS this season and has a combined 31 home runs and 112 RBIs in 239 games over the past two seasons after missing the 2020 campaign as he recovered from stage 3 colon cancer.

Mancini was on the field with the Orioles in advance of Monday's game at the Texas Rangers when he received word of the trade. He could be seen saying his goodbyes as teammates prepared for batting practice.

In one of his final acts with the Orioles, Mancini delivered an inside-the-park home run Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays. It was one of his 10 home runs on the season.

The Astros are at home for a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox starting Monday.

Mancini leaves a much-improved Orioles club that is 51-51 heading into play Monday, but he lands with the 67-36 Astros, who are in first place in the American League West and are 8-4 since the All-Star break despite getting swept in a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics last week.

--Field Level Media

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Houston Astros

Astros reinstate slugger Yordan Alvarez from IL

July 21, 2022, 5:31 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros reinstated All-Star outfielder Yordan Alvarez from the 10-day injured list on Thursday.

The team also reinstated left-hander Parker Mushinski from the 15-day IL, optioned outfielder Jose Siri to Triple-A Sugar Land and placed right-handed closer Ryan Pressly on the paternity list.

Alvarez, 25, landed on the IL on July 10 and had to miss Tuesday's All-Star Game. He is batting .306 with 26 homers and 60 RBIs in 75 games and leads the majors in slugging (.653) and OPS (1.058).

Mushinski, 26, has not pitched for the Astros since June 6 due to left elbow discomfort. He made his MLB debut on April 17 and has a 4.26 ERA in six relief appearances.

Siri, who turns 27 on Friday, is batting .178 with three homers, 10 RBIs and six stolen bases in 48 games this season with Houston.

Pressly, 33, is 3-2 with 19 saves and a 2.89 ERA in 29 relief appearances this season.

--Field Level Media

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros

Looking ahead: Five teams that pose a threat to the Yankees

July 21, 2022, 1:59 AM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- The New York Yankees and Houston Astros had a common goal this week, although it evaporated instantly with the end of the All-Star break.

The Yankees stood head and shoulders above the rest of baseball in the first half, but as the season winds down over the next 2 1/2 months, New York and Houston will battle it out for American League supremacy. It starts Thursday when they meet for a doubleheader at Houston.

There was less animosity Tuesday when an AL team managed by the Astros' Dusty Baker, defeated the National League 3-2, largely due to a two-run home run from the Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton. Once the final out was recorded, it was back to business.

"The way (Stanton) is looking and the way he's built, he should be around for an awful long time," Baker said Tuesday from Los Angeles. "I just regret that we have to play him in a doubleheader on Thursday."

The Yankees were a pitching and hitting juggernaut in the pre-All-Star Game portion of the schedule. On offense, their 157 home runs were 10 more than the next closest team, and they also had a baseball-best .776 OPS. Nobody came near their 497 runs scored.

From the mound, the Yankees had the third-best ERA in baseball at 3.08 and were second in the AL with 846 strikeouts. Yankees starting pitchers led the AL with 519 strikeouts, and the 1.04 WHIP from the rotation was best of any team in the game.

But New York did stumble into the break, looking less like the monster that stormed through the July 4 holiday. They went just 6-5 before baseball's mid-July pause, losing a series to the Cincinnati Reds, while going 4-3 against the rival Boston Red Sox, although they did head into All-Star festivities by defeating the Red Sox by a combined 27-3 score over the final two games.

Here are five teams that can challenge the Yankees' first-half domination:


George Springer and Carlos Correa are gone, but the Astros are still thriving with the same combination of relentless offense and strong starting pitching. Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker have emerged as offensive leaders, while Jose Altuve continues to produce. Framber Valdez and Justin Verlander provide the 1-2 punch for the starting staff, which leads the AL with a 3.15 ERA. Houston certainly is in line for a No. 1 or 2 seed in the playoffs and an opening-round bye as it looks to advance to a fourth World Series in the past six seasons.


The World Series champions weren't even in first place in their own division at the All-Star break, which is hardly cause for concern. They were five games behind the New York Mets at the end of July last season then roared to a championship. A life without Freddie Freeman was made easier by Matt Olson's arrival and Ronald Acuna Jr.'s return. Left-hander Max Fried continues to establish himself as an elite pitcher in the game, while right-hander Kyle Wright has parlayed his World Series success into a strong 2022 season to finally become a rotation mainstay.


The bullpen is banged up and the offense is prone to fits and starts, yet the Dodgers still found themselves as the NL's top team at the All-Star break, 3 1/2 games better than the Mets and 10 games clear of anybody in their own division. Mookie Betts emerged from a slow start to become an All-Star and Trea Turner has been as steady as anybody in baseball. Freeman has been solid following his emotional departure from Atlanta, and catcher Will Smith is a stud. Ace Walker Buehler is out indefinitely, yet the rotation still has a baseball-best 2.77 ERA from its starters. If Max Muncy and Justin Turner produce to expected levels in the second half, while Buehler returns, this becomes the team to beat. Or will issues at closer drag down the team?


The Astros and Yankees have the top two rotations in the AL, but the Rays are right on their heels with a 3.35 ERA, and an overall mark of 3.37 that is fourth best in baseball. Pitching always has been where the Rays have thrived, with second-year starter and All-Star Shane McClanahan leading the way with a 1.71 ERA, the the best of any qualified starter in baseball. The team OPS of .691 is just 19th best in baseball, with teams like the Cubs and Rangers better. Well-pitched games are the hallmark of the playoffs, which gives the Rays a chance at a World Series run. But Rays pitchers are going to need run support at some point to limit the number of stressful innings.


Nobody in the AL has delivered a winning streak longer than the Mariners' current 14-game run, which left Seattle fans yearning for more baseball during the break. Excitement for the Mariners only grew during the Home Run Derby when Julio Rodriguez put on a show with 81 total home runs in the competition, only to finish second. First baseman Ty France was an All-Star, while the pitching staff has led the way with a 3.53 ERA, fifth best in baseball. Right-hander Logan Gilbert (10-3, 2.76 ERA) is a major part of the Seattle youth movement. It is something of a full-circle season for the Mariners, who haven't been to the playoffs in 21 years and are being led by a 21-year-old rookie in Rodriguez. Their post-break test comes early with a series against the Astros.

--Doug Padilla, Field Level Media

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians

Giants acquire LHP Alex Young from Guardians for cash

July 18, 2022, 11:16 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco Giants traded for left-handed reliever Alex Young on Monday, sending cash considerations to the Cleveland Guardians.

Young, who had been designated for assignment last week by the Guardians, was immediately optioned to Triple-A Sacramento.

To make room on the Giants' 40-man roster, the team also outrighted left-hander Aaron Fletcher to Sacramento on Monday.

The 28-year-old Young has appeared in just one game this season, facing two batters in Game 1 of Cleveland's doubleheader on July 4 against the Detroit Tigers. He allowed one hit while striking out the other batter.

This marks Young's third organization in the past two seasons. Originally a second-round pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015, the TCU product began his career as a starter -- going 7-5 with a 3.56 ERA in 17 outings (15 starts) as a rookie in 2019. He split time between starting and relieving in 15 appearances in 2020 and his ERA rose to 5.44.

Young was waived and picked up by Cleveland last season. In four major league seasons, he is 11-15 with a 4.90 ERA in 73 games (24 starts).

--Field Level Media

MLB: Texas Rangers at Cleveland Guardians

Tigers-Guardians postponed due to inclement weather

July 17, 2022, 4:52 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Sunday's scheduled game in Cleveland between the Guardians and Detroit Tigers was postponed because of inclement weather.

The game will be made up on Aug. 15 at 3:10 p.m. ET as part of a traditional doubleheader.

The Guardians enter the All-Star break with a 46-44 record and in second place in the American League Central. They won the first three games of the four-game set against Detroit.

The Tigers (37-55) are jockeying with the Kansas City Royals for last place in the division. After a six-game winning streak, the Tigers have lost eight of their past nine games.

--Field Level Media

MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels

Astros 2B Jose Altuve to sit out All-Star Game

July 16, 2022, 4:40 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Guardians second baseman Andres Gimenez is scheduled to start at the position for the American League after Houston Astros star Jose Altuve opted out of the upcoming All-Star Game.

Altuve, who was elected the starter following the fan vote, will miss Tuesday's game in Los Angeles while dealing with a knee injury. He is listed as day-to-day by the Astros.

Second baseman Santiago Espinal of the Toronto Blue Jays was added to the AL roster.

Espinal, 27, is hitting .271 with six homers and 37 RBIs in 89 games heading into Saturday's action.

Also on Saturday, MLB Network reported Atlanta Braves third baseman Austin Riley has been added to the National League roster for the contest at Dodger Stadium.

Riley, 25, is batting .282 with 26 homers and 60 RBIs in 90 games heading into Saturday's action.

--Field Level Media

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Kansas City Royals

Guardians RHP Aaron Civale (wrist) placed on 15-day IL

July 14, 2022, 8:27 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Guardians right-hander Aaron Civale has been placed on the 15-day injured list Thursday with a sprained right wrist.

Civale exited Wednesday night's 2-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox after just one inning. He had been dealing with the injury for quite some time, manager Terry Francona said.

Civale is headed to the injured list for the second time this season. The 27-year-old is 2-5 with a 6.17 ERA in 12 starts in 2022.

He owns a 21-20 record with a 4.18 ERA in 55 career starts with Cleveland.

Also on Thursday, the Guardians selected the contract of left-hander Tanner Tully from Triple-A Columbus.

Tully, 27, made two relief appearances with Cleveland this season without registering a decision. He allowed four runs on seven hits and walked five batters in five innings.

--Field Level Media

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Houston Astros

Astros OF/DH Yordan Alvarez (hand) heads to IL

July 10, 2022, 8:19 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros placed outfielder and designated hitter Yordan Alvarez on the 10-day injured list on Sunday due to right hand inflammation.

Outfielder Jose Siri was recalled from Triple-A Sugar Land in a corresponding move.

Alvarez, the 2019 American League Rookie of the Year, is batting .306 in 75 games this year and leads Houston with 26 home runs, 60 RBIs and 82 hits.

The 25-year-old recently missed two games while in concussion protocol after a hard collision in the field with teammate Jeremy Pena on June 29. He returned July 2 and has collected three homers, four RBIs and six walks so far this month.

Siri, who turns 27 later this month, batted .185 in 45 previous appearances for the Astros this season. He made his major league debut last year and batted .304 with four homers in 21 games.

At Sugar Land, Siri is batting .311 with six homers and 15 RBIs in just 10 games.

--Field Level Media

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Houston Astros

Astros SS Jeremy Pena late scratch vs. Royals

July 7, 2022, 6:36 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros rookie shortstop Jeremy Pena was scratched from the lineup ahead of Thursday afternoon's game against the visiting Kansas City Royals due to health and safety protocol.

Outfielder Aledmys Diaz was inserted in the lineup to bat second in place of Pena. Mauricio Dubon, who will bat seventh in the lineup, shuffled from left field to shortstop.

Pena, 24, is 7-for-29 with three homers and four RBIs in six games since colliding with teammate Yordan Alvarez in a game against the New York Mets on June 29.

Overall, Pena is batting .320/.472/.792 with 12 homers and 31 RBIs in 63 games.

--Field Level Media

MLB: 2022 Cleveland Media Day

Giants acquire RHP Tobias Myers from Guardians for cash

July 7, 2022, 6:36 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco Giants acquired right-hander Tobias Myers from the Cleveland Guardians in exchange for cash considerations on Thursday.

Myers, who turns 24 next month, was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento. He has not made his major league debut.

He went 1-9 with a 6.00 ERA in 14 starts for Triple-A Columbus this season before being designated for assignment by Cleveland on Saturday.

Originally a sixth-round draft pick by the Baltimore Orioles in 2016, Myers is 32-25 with a 3.76 ERA in 98 games (86 starts) in the minors since 2016.

To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, San Francisco transferred right-hander Anthony DeSclafani to the 60-day injured list. He is scheduled to have season-ending surgery on his right ankle next week.

--Field Level Media

MLB: Houston Astros at Boston Red Sox

Astros reinstate RHP Jake Odorizzi (leg) from IL

July 4, 2022, 7:14 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros reinstated right-hander Jake Odorizzi (leg injury) from the 15-day injured list on Monday.

Odorizzi is set to make his first start since May 16 on Monday afternoon against the Kansas City Royals.

The Astros optioned RHP Enoli Paredes to Triple-A Sugar Land to make room for Odorizzi on the active roster.

Odorizzi (3-2, 3.13 ERA) went 3-0 with a 0.79 ERA over his last four starts, sustaining the injury during a road outing against the Boston Red Sox. He collapsed while running off the mound to cover first base and favored his left leg before he was was stretchered off the field.

Odorizzi owns a career 3.92 ERA and a 71-65 record in 226 career games (222 starts) with Kansas City (2012), Tampa Bay (2013-17), Minnesota (2018-20) and Houston.

Paredes, 26, posted a 3.00 ERA without a decision in three games for the Astros.

--Field Level Media